As the season progresses, Sundays start to take on a quiet tone. They lose the sense of urgency that appears early in the season, and become more about the next week's events.
True to early season form, yesterday was anything but quiet. From a storm that ripped apart central Illinois and battered Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, to a flood of close, exciting basketball games, Sunday had it all.
Our thoughts go out to our fans near Peoria who have a long recovery from the devastation that took place. We hope you find your morning coffee somewhere safe and dry today.
For the rest of us, time to grab your mug and catch up on the day that was in college basketball.
What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:
The senior wingman for Belmont was just 2-for-11 from the from deep heading to the final minute. It wasn't the type of performance that was going to have your teammates threading you the ball for the big shot.
But apparently Rick Byrd's squad has been conditioned well. The Bruins fed J.J. Mann three times in the final minute, and every time, he found the bottom of the net from behind the arc. His nine points in the final 63 seconds helped Belmont knock off No. 12 North Carolina, 83-80.
The Bruins got a break given that UNC was playing without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, and that the Tar Heels seemed to forget how to shoot from the free throw line (22-for-48 at the line). But that should not be used to take anything away from the performance that Byrd's team put together Sunday evening.
Mann finished with 28 points and nine rebounds, while Drew Windler (who also hit four 3-pointers) had 16 in the win to go with three steals. Reece Chamberlain contributed with nine points and six assists.
Side of bacon:
Until Belmont took to the floor, it seemed that Indiana State was going to be having the big headlines of the day. Despite cold shooting from Jake Odum, who just couldn't get open, Indiana State managed to trip up Notre Dame 83-70, in a game that was rarely close.
Odum contributed in his own way, with 10 points, seven boards, five assists and two steals.
Indiana State has a tough path to the NCAA Tournament, with a less than stellar nonconference schedule and a very clear favorite in their conference (plus a number of teams that look to compete behind them). This win will stick in the minds of the committee and the media for a while though.
- Someone finally found the answer for Kendrick Perry. Massachusetts held the Youngstown State star to just 14 points en route to a 85-69 win over the Penguins. Chaz Williams led the way for the Minutemen with 19 points and 11 assists, helping three of his teammates to also land double digits in the scoring column. Cady Lalanne had 13 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for UMass. Bobby Hain had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Youngstown State and Marcus Keene had 20 off the bench in the loss.
- Oakland put up a nice effort against Cal on Friday night despite all the distractions. But facing Gonzaga on Sunday was another matter. The Zags ran past the Grizzlies, 82-67, with 21 points from Kevin Pangos, including five 3-pointers. Big men Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski totalled 27 points and three blocks in the win. Travis Bader led Oakland with 22 points, and Kahlil Felder had seven assists to just four turnovers (yes, we are watching him closely for a reason).
- "Blow the whistle. Blow the whistle. Blow the whistle." Pretty sure that was the subliminal message tape piped into the Holiday Inn Express room that the refs of the Towson vs. Villanova matchup were staying in. The Tigers were called for 24 fouls, and no starter had less than three in a crushing 78-44 loss. Jerrelle Benimon finished with just 11 points and six boards.
- Maybe we should be playing slightly more attention to what is going on out west. The Pacific Tigers, who are the new additions to the WCC this season, is quietly off to a 3-0 start after a 66-52 win over Western Illinois. The Tigers have also taken out UC-Irvine and their massive center, and Nevada on opening night. We will likely learn a lot more about this team before the month is out. They face off against Fresno State and then take on Oregon. Not much is expected of the Tigers in their inaugural season in the new league, but this is a nice start for a team changing area codes. For Sunday, Tony Gill had 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and added three steals. Sama Taku added 16 points, six boards and four assists in the win.
- Charleston Southern struggled to deal with the size of New Mexico and it cost them in a 109-93 loss. The Lobos front line starters combined for 53 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, while drawing foul after foul from the Buccaneers. Saah Nimley had a Saah Nimley type of game, with 24 points, 12 assists and four steals, while Sheldon Strickland made five 3-pointers as Charleston Southern attempted to mount a comeback in the second half, but it was too much of a hill to climb. The Buccaneers turn around and play at Baylor on Wednesday, another chance to get that signature win, but another game against a much larger opponent.
- Northern Illinois is still looking to string two wins together under coach Mark Montgomery after losing 82-69 to Milwaukee. The Huskies got 19 points and eight rebounds from Darrell Bowie, but it was far from enough. The Panthers were led by Malcolm Moore who had 15 points off the bench on a perfect shooting night. Steve McWhorter added 14 points in the win.
- Ohio staged a block party as they held off a late charge from Valparaiso to save a 76-72 win at home. Maurice Ndour had five swats to go along with his 23 points and six rebounds, while Jon Smith added four more. Nick Kellogg poured in four threes and finished with 16 points. For the Crusaders, LaVonte Dority had 20 points while Alec Peters had 16 points, 13 boards and three steals.
- Once upon a time, there was this guy who played for Illinois State. His name was Doug Collins. You may have heard of him. He was pretty good. Well, his son now coaches at Northwestern if you hadn't heard. And the Redbirds paid him a little visit Sunday, and walked away with their first win of the season, 68-64. If you had to pick the team that would be Illinois State's first victim, it would not have been Northwestern. Especially not so when you consider that the Redbirds have just two players back from last season and nine players who have never played in Division 1. Yeah, how bout that. Zach Lofton and Daishon Knight each had 15 points in the win and Michael Middlebrooks added six points, 11 rebounds, two steals and three blocks for the Redbirds.